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The Hearts of Jesus and Mary and the Theology and Practice of Reparation

I. Introduction

“Reparation” is a term which has been largely and unfortunately ignored in theological circles since the Second Vatican Council. It has been all too often relegated to the category of “pious devotions” by some activists who claim that it has been rightly replaced by the “option for the poor” and by no few religious communities which were originally founded with reparation as one of their fundamental ends. It is nonetheless, I am convinced, a topic which calls for the attention of Catholics who are serious about the spiritual life and apostolic activity. I also believe that it is of particular relevance to those involved in the pro-life movement in this era which seems more contemptuous of human life than any previous period in history.

No doubt this is precisely because our world has almost entirely lost “the sense of sin,” a prophetic declaration which was first sounded by Pius XII in a radio message delivered to a Catechetical Congress held in Boston on 26 October, 1946 (1) and echoed many times since by the present Pontiff. (2) Indeed, we will have no real sense of sin until we recognize what our sins did to Christ. As both the Roman Catechism and now also the Catechism of the Catholic Church put it: “sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured.” (3) I would like to sketch here briefly a theological outline of reparation to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary with specific reference to the burning pro-life issues of our day.

Virtually every Pope since Pius XI has emphasized that our primary response to the love of God manifested in the Heart of Jesus is the twofold work of consecration and reparation. In his monumental encyclical devoted to this theme, Miserentissimus Redemptor, Pope Pius XI called the Church to embrace the practice of reparation.

Here is the way he put it:

Whereas the primary object of consecration is that the creature should repay the love of the Creator by loving him in return, yet from this another naturally follows—that is, to make amends for the insults offered to the Divine Love by oblivion and neglect, and by the sins and offenses of mankind. This duty is commonly called by the name of “reparation.” (4)

It seems to me that the topic of reparation to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary can motivate and deepen Catholics’ involvement in the pro-life movement in many ways. I will try to draw some of them out as I explore the meaning of reparation as it involves the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

II. Heart of Jesus—Propitiation for Our Sins

The first and most fundamental way in which reparation is understood theologically is as the atonement, expiation, propitiation or satisfaction which Christ has made for us to the Father in his redemptive sacrifice. Each of these words emphasizes with a slightly different accent the profound truth that once man fell into sin he was incapable of “making up” for the offense which he had caused to God and the disorder which he had introduced into the universe. (5) Only Jesus could repair the damage done by sin and make the reparation owed to God in justice. The Catechism of the Catholic Church neatly synthesizes this concept thus:

It is the love “to the end” (Jn. 13:1) that confers on Christ’s sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew and loved us all when he offered his life. Now “the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died” (2 Cor. 5:14). No man, not even the holiest, was ever able to take on himself the sins of all men and to offer himself as a sacrifice for all. The existence in Christ of the divine Person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embraces all human persons and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all. (6)

The fundamental reparation, then, is the reparation made to the Father by Christ on the Cross and renewed on our altars. This is a truth of faith which we all accept, but it is also a mystery so rich, so deep, that we will never exhaust it.

What is of particular interest to us is that this perfect act of reparation made by Christ for us is magnificently symbolized in his Heart. In fact, as is well known, one of the invocations of the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is precisely “Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our sins, have mercy on us!” In commenting on this invocation in his Angelus address of 17 August, 1986, Pope John Paul II underscored the appropriateness of the identification of Jesus’ propitiatory sacrifice with his Heart:

The Passion and Death of Christ involved his whole body. They were effected through all the wounds which he received during the Passion. However they were above all accomplished in his Heart, because it agonized in the dying of his entire body. His Heart was consumed in the throbbing pain of all his wounds. In this despoliation the Heart burned with love; a living fire of love consumed the Heart of Jesus on the Cross.

This love of the Heart was the propitiating power for sins. It overcame and overcomes for all time all the evil contained in sin, all estrangement from God, all rebellion of the human free will, all improper use of created freedom which opposes God and his holiness. (7)

Even in his risen glory Jesus’ Heart continues to be the propitiation for our sins, as the Pope explained in an Angelus address of 10 September, 1989:

Jesus is the willing victim because he offered himself “freely to his passion” (Roman Missal, Eucharistic Prayer II), the victim of expiation for the sins of mankind (cf. Lev. 1:5; Heb. 10:5-10), which he purged in the fire of his love.

Jesus is the eternal victim. Risen from the dead and glorified at the right hand of the Father, he preserves in his immortal body the marks of the wounds of his nailed hands and feet, of his pierced heart (cf. Jn. 20:27; Lk. 24:39-40) and presents them to the Father in his incessant prayer of intercession on our behalf (cf. Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:34). (8)

The Heart of Jesus, then, is truly the Heart in which the Father is well pleased, the Heart which has taken the sins of the world upon itself and repaired the breach which man had created between himself and God.

It is Jesus’ reparative self-offering which provides the context of the prayer taught by the Angel to the children of Fatima:

O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He is offended . . . (9)

It is likewise the point of reference of the prayer in the Chaplet of Mercy of Saint Faustina Kowalska:

Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. (10)

Long before the prayer recorded by Sister Lúcia was made public and before Blessed Faustina received hers, Pope Pius XI promulgated an Act of Reparation whose recitation he mandated for the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus every year. (11) (Sadly, this has been almost universally forgotten). In it the Church prays:

We now offer, in reparation for these violations of your divine honor, the satisfaction you once made to your eternal Father on the cross and which you continue to renew daily on our altars. (12)

In the remarkable designs of God’s Providence another young religious, Mother Mary St. Cecilia of Rome, now more commonly known by her Baptismal name as Blessed Dina Bélanger, recorded these words which she perceived the Lord speaking to her in her sick room in the infirmary of a motherhouse in Québec just a few months after the promulgation of Miserentissimus Redemptor, of which she knew nothing:

Offer Me to My Father; offer the love and patience of My Eucharistic Heart. By the offering of My Heart, you can atone infinitely for all the outrages which My Father and I receive; you atone for the lack of love in consecrated souls. (13)

III. Heart of Jesus—Bruised for Our Offenses

The second way in which reparation is understood theologically—and this is probably what most of us spontaneously think of when we hear the word—is as the “consolation” which we offer to the Heart of Christ for what our sins have caused him to suffer for us. This is the motive for reparation found especially in the revelations of the Lord to St. Margaret Mary who tells us that he asks for the communion of reparation to his Sacred Heart on the First Friday of the month. (14) Pope Pius XI also deals with this concept in his Encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor.

The first and obvious question that comes to mind is this: “Since Jesus is now in glory at the right hand of the Father, how can we offer him ‘consolation’?” Pius XI first cited a very apposite quotation from St. Augustine: “Give me one who loves, and he will understand what I say,” (15) and then gave the following reply:

If, in view of our future sins, foreseen by him, the soul of Jesus became sad unto death, there can be no doubt that by his prevision at the same time of our acts of reparation, he was in some way comforted when “there appeared to him an angel from Heaven” (Lk. 22:43) to console that Heart of his bowed down with sorrow and anguish. (16)

In other words, as Jesus saw the sins of the world in his agony in Gethsemane by virtue of the beatific vision, (17) so He also saw in advance every act of consolation offered to him until the end of time. The Pope also provided a second answer to the question in terms of the suffering of Christ in the members of his body:

To this it may be added that the expiatory passion of Christ is renewed and in a manner continued and fulfilled in His mystical body, which is the Church. For, to use once more the words of St. Augustine, “Christ suffered whatever it behoved Him to suffer; now nothing is wanting of the measure of the sufferings. Therefore the sufferings were fulfilled, but in the head; there were yet remaining the sufferings of Christ in His Body (In Psalm 86). This, indeed, Our Lord Jesus Himself vouchsafed to explain when, speaking to Saul . . . he said ‘I am Jesus whom thou persecutest’ (Acts 9:5), clearly signifying that when persecutions are stirred up against the Church, the Divine Head of the Church is Himself attacked and troubled. Rightly, therefore, does Christ, still suffering in His mystical body, desire to have us partake of His expiation.” (18)

Indeed, it was in the light of this second explanation that John Paul II quoted the French thinker Blaise Pascal on 9 January, 1993 at a prayer vigil for peace in Bosnia-Hercegovina held in Assisi saying that Christ “is in agony even to the end of the world.” (19) It is an idea which has obviously gripped him because he repeated it in his Letter to Families of 2 February, 1994 (20) and on Tuesday of Holy Week of that year to a large gathering of university students. (21)

After this brief exposition, we can say that these two ways of understanding reparation, i.e., 1. as represented by the Heart of Jesus, “propitiation for our sins,” and 2. as represented by the consolation offered to the Heart of Jesus, “bruised for our offenses,” are two sides of the same coin. It is true that the second meaning has become much more prominent in the devotional literature of modern times, especially since the events at Paray-le-Monial. (22) The one form is not opposed to the other, however, but rather they are mutually complementary. Here is how they are related by a contemporary German theologian in a carefully developed study on this matter:

The basic form of atonement would be to be a son to the Father—in Christ, the great Atoner, pierced on account of our sins, and through the Spirit—in this world, marred by sin. And such a form of atonement exactly corresponds to the spirit of the devotion to the Heart of Jesus.

A basic understanding of this kind straightaway shows us that the concrete practice of atonement requires an objective multiplicity of dimensions.

It also shows that it is impossible to ask to whom atonement is made, to Christ or to God: subjectively there may be various emphases, but what actually takes place does so in reference to both. Atonement is a response to the claim, the deepest desire and wish, of the one to whom it is addressed. In the concrete this response is “being a son.” However it is only in the son, not apart from him and his atonement, that the believer can be a “son” to the Father. Christ longs to be totally “Son” to the Father together with those who are his; the Father desires men to be sons to him in Christ.

So we cannot perform atonement to Christ without being sons with him to the Father; we cannot atone to the Father without being his sons in Christ. (23)

Now I would like to relate what I have just presented to the burning pro-life question. In his historic encyclical Mystici Corporis of 29 June, 1943 Pius XII, following a long theological tradition, taught that by means of the beatific vision, which He enjoyed from the time when He was received into the womb of the Mother of God, (Christ) has for ever and continuously had present to Him all the members of His mystical Body, and embraced them with His saving love. (24)

This is to say that in his communion with the Father which Jesus enjoyed even in his earthly life he saw every one of us and embraced us all. He saw every child in the womb, every one without exception destined to be a member of his Body. If in some manner He saw the sins of the world and was crushed under their dreadful weight in Gethsemane, then He surely saw the millions of abortions committed in this barbaric age in which we live, the millions of lives destined for eternal union with Him, snuffed out and prevented from achieving the goal for which they were created, union with him in his Mystical Body by means of Baptism. With what pathos he must have seen in his agony those who refused to share the cup with him in their last agony (Mt. 26:39)! How this must have pained the Heart of Jesus! How much these sins cry out for reparation!

IV. The “Covenant” of Hearts

Having briefly sketched the two principal meanings or “moments” of reparation with regard to the Heart of Jesus, we must now consider another concept, that of the “alliance.” (25) In a notable Angelus address of 15 September, 1985 John Paul II spoke these words:

When the side of Christ was pierced with the centurion’s lance, Simeon’s prophecy was fulfilled in her: “And a sword will pierce through your own soul, also” (Lk. 2:35).

The words of the prophet are a foretelling of the definitive alliance of these hearts: of the Son and of the Mother; of the Mother and of the Son. “Heart of Jesus, in whom dwells all the fullness of the divinity.” Heart of Mary, Heart of the sorrowful Virgin, Heart of the Mother of God!

May our prayer of the Angelus, unite us today with that admirable alliance of hearts. (26)

The word translated into English as “alliance” here is the Italian word alleanza which is also the word used in Italian for covenant. Let us take note of some other instances when the Pope used this same word with reference to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

On 16 June of 1985 he simply identified the Heart of Jesus as “our Covenant.” (27) From what we have already said about the first meaning of reparation we can see how this is true. In a homily on 7 June, 1991 in Pock, Poland the Pope said

God’s covenant with the chosen people is merely an image of that everlasting choice with which God embraces mankind through his only-begotten Son. The heart of the Son—the Heart of Jesus—pierced with a spear at Golgotha is a manifestation of that universal choice and at the same time a manifestation of a new and everlasting Covenant. (28)

On 4 December, 1991 in a general audience John Paul spoke about Mary as summing up in her very person the perfect response to “God’s spousal covenant with the chosen people.” “She became,” he said, “the beginning of the new Israel . . . in her spousal heart.” (29)

As Jesus’ Heart manifests God’s new covenant with his people and may even be called “our covenant with God,” so Mary’s spousal Heart is the perfect response to God’s new covenant with his people. In a certain sense we can say that the new covenant is made in the Heart of Jesus and endorsed by the response of the Heart of Mary. Mary has, in fact, made the response for all of us. Hence the Pope could say on 9 June, 1985, “Through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, let us remain in the Covenant with the Heart of Jesus.” (30)

V. Heart of Mary—Heart of the Coredemptrix

In speaking her fiat, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, Mary was the representative of the entire human race. (31) Not only was she the first recipient of the grace of the Redemption in her Immaculate Conception, she was also its first collaborator throughout the entire earthly life of her Son and especially by the sacrifice of her spousal and maternal heart on Calvary. In recommending that devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary should be joined to that to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Venerable Pope Pius XII made this bold statement:

By God’s Will, in carrying out the work of human Redemption the Blessed Virgin Mary was inseparably linked with Christ in such a manner that our salvation sprang from the love and sufferings of Jesus Christ to which the love and sorrows of His Mother were intimately united. (32)

In his Apostolic Letter on the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering, Salvifici Doloris, Pope John Paul II spoke of Mary’s “sharing in the redemptive death of her Son” in a similarly bold way:

It was on Calvary that Mary’s suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view but which was mysteriously and supernaturally fruitful for the Redemption of the world. Her ascent of Calvary and her standing at the foot of the cross together with the beloved disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming death of her Son. (33)

Hence Mary is the Coredemptrix, the perfect one to lead us in being cooperators, collaborators, “co-redeemers” in union with Jesus. I place the word “co-redeemer” in quotation marks because it can be misunderstood as placing Mary’s reparation and ours on the same level as that of Jesus and thus reducing him “to being half of a team of redeemers.” (34) But if we begin to penetrate the meaning of St. Paul’s words in Colossians 1:24, “In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” in the great Catholic tradition, beautifully articulated in Salvifici Doloris, (35) we realize that all human reparation must always and necessarily be understood as totally subordinate to that of Christ.

Let us for a moment consider the term Coredemptrix as it is applied to Mary. This expression usually requires some initial explanation in English and in other modern languages because often the prefix “co-” immediately conjures up visions of complete equality. (36) For instance a co-signer of a check or a co-owner of a house is considered a co-equal with the other signer or owner. Thus the first fear of many is that describing Our Lady as Coredemptrix puts her on the same level of her Divine Son and implies that she is our Redeemer in the same way that He is. In the Latin language from which the term Coredemptrix comes, however, the meaning is always that Mary’s cooperation or collaboration in the redemption is secondary, subordinate, dependent on that of Christ—and yet for all that—something that God “freely wished to accept . . . as constituting an unneeded, but yet wonderfully pleasing part of that one great price” (37) paid by His Son for the world’s redemption. As Mark Miravalle points out:

The prefix “co” does not mean equal, but comes from the Latin word, “cum” which means “with.” The title of Coredemptrix applied to the Mother of Jesus never places Mary on a level of equality with Jesus Christ, the divine Lord of all, in the saving process of humanity’s redemption. Rather, it denotes Mary’s singular and unique sharing with her Son in the saving work of redemption for the human family. The Mother of Jesus participates in the redemptive work of her Savior Son, who alone could reconcile humanity with the Father in his glorious divinity and humanity. (38)

In her “co-redemptive” role then, Mary offers reparation to the Father in union with Christ. On 9 May of 1993, at a youth rally in Agrigento, Pope John Paul II described Mary as “she who offered herself with Christ for the redemption of all humanity.” (39) Indeed, always in union with him, she offers to God the most perfect creaturely reparation possible because it comes from her Immaculate Heart, the heart of the creature described by the Venerable Pius IX as possessing “such a fullness of innocence and holiness that none greater under God can be thought of, and no one, except God, can comprehend it.” (40) She was the first member of the Church to lead a life of reparation and was specifically referred to as “Reparatrix” by Pius XI in his encyclical on reparation, Miserentissimus Redemptor. (41) Hers is the first heart of a human person to enter into “the covenant or alliance of hearts” and her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart symbolizes her coredemptive role in a particularly eloquent way. (42)

Here is a description of Mary’s collaboration in the reparation of Christ from the pen of the distinguished nineteenth century spiritual writer, Father Frederick William Faber:

During those hours of the Passion, each oblation was a double one; the offering of Jesus and the offering of Mary were tied in one. . . . they were offered with kindred dispositions. Thus there is a sacrificial and expiatory character in Mary’s Compassion which is peculiar to itself. The world was redeemed by the Passion of our Lord. But there never was, in the ordinance of God, such a thing as a Passion of Jesus disjoined from the Compassion of Mary. The two things were one simultaneous oblation, interwoven each moment through the thickly-crowded mysteries of that dread time, unto the Eternal Father, out of two sinless Hearts, that were the Hearts of Son and Mother, for the sins of a guilty world which fell on them contrary to their merits, but according to their own free will. Never was any sanctified sorrow of creatures so confused and commingled with the world-redeeming sorrow of Jesus as was the Compassion of His Mother. (43)

It is particularly interesting to note that Father Faber chose the symbol of their two Hearts to represent the perfect reparation made to the Father by the passion of Jesus united with the compassion of Mary.

VI. Heart of Mary—Encircled with Thorns

In a way analogous (44) to the Heart of Jesus—while always keeping the right proportion—we may also speak of two “moments” of reparation in terms of the Heart of Mary. (45) We have just briefly considered Mary’s “co-redemptive” role in making reparation to God for our sins or what we might call the reparation made by the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But, as with Christ so also with Mary there is also the other “moment” of reparation, the “consolation” which we offer to her Immaculate Heart for what our sins have caused her to suffer for us.

Not only was the Heart of Mary pierced on Calvary in her identification with the sufferings of Jesus “her firstborn son” (Lk. 2:7), but also because of the sins of “the rest of her offspring” (Rev. 12:17). In this regard let us listen to the words of Pope John Paul II:

The suffering of this mysterious new Daughter of Sion, Mary, is a result of the innumerable sins of all Adam’s children, sins that have caused our expulsion from Paradise.

In Mary, therefore, in a unique way, there is revealed the salvific mystery of suffering, and the significance and fullness of human solidarity. Because the Virgin did not suffer for herself, being All Beautiful, the Ever Immaculate One: she suffered for us, in so far as she is the Mother of all. Just as Christ “bore our infirmities and endured our sufferings” (Is. 53:4) so also Mary was weighed down as by the sufferings of childbirth through an immense motherhood that makes us reborn to God. The suffering of Mary, the new Eve, alongside the new Adam, Christ, was and still is the royal path to the reconciliation of the world. (46)

In raising the topic of reparation offered to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a topic which emerges with particular exigency at Fatima in our own century, (47) we must keep in mind that because of Mary’s Immaculate Conception her soul was eminently sensitive to and capable of love and suffering: “how deeply must every torment of her Son have been impressed on her Immaculate Heart”! (48) As we noted in the case of reparation offered to the Heart of Jesus that he could see every act of “consolation” in the beatific vision, so in an analogous manner, even if Our Lady did not have a specially infused knowledge in detail of the sins of men, she must have been aware in at least a general way of our sins as well as our desire to offer her consolation. (49)

To these theological reflections the revelations of Fatima offer some further very specific motives for reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Sister Lúcia gave to her confessor as reasons for the communion of reparation on the five First Saturdays blasphemies against 1. Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, 2. her virginity, 3. her divine motherhood as well as her spiritual motherhood of men, 4. the sins of those who foster indifference and hatred against her in the hearts of children and 5. the sacrileges of those who outrage her in her holy images. (50) While it surely would be possible to comment at length on each of these categories of offenses, I would like to single out the third: blasphemies against Mary’s spiritual maternity.

There is a sense in which it may be said that all of us were carried in the womb of Mary together with Christ. Let us listen to how Pope John Paul II developed this theme in Ephesus on 30 November, 1979, basing himself on two Fathers and a Doctor of the Church:

Uttering her “fiat,” Mary does not just become Mother of the historical Christ; her gesture sets her as Mother of the total Christ, as “Mother of the Church.” “From the moment of the ‘fiat’—St. Anselm remarks—Mary began to bear us all in her womb.” That is why “the birth of the Head is also the birth of the Body,” St. Leo the Great proclaims. On his part, St. Ephrem has a very beautiful expression on this subject: Mary, he says, is “the ground in which the Church was sown.”

In fact, from the moment when the Virgin becomes Mother of the Incarnate Word, the Church is constituted secretly, but perfectly in its germ, in its essence as the Mystical Body: there are present, in fact, the Redeemer and the first of the redeemed.

Henceforth incorporation into Christ will involve a filial relationship not only with the heavenly Father, but also with Mary, the earthly Mother of the Son of God. (51)

“From the moment of the ‘fiat’ Mary began to bear us all in her womb”! How amazing! But what about the poor children who are ripped from the wombs of their mothers before birth? Do they qualify as children carried in the womb of Mary since they are not baptized? While we cannot claim that the unbaptized bear the same relationship to Mary that the faithful do, it is nevertheless true that her motherhood is intended for all; she is even the mother of non-believers, according to Father Garrigou-Lagrange, in the sense “that she is destined to engender them to grace.” (52)

This brings the tragedy of abortion home to us in a new way: abortion deprives Mary of the spiritual children she wants to claim at the baptismal font. What happens to these children? Only God knows. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that

the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,” allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. (53)

There is yet another corollary I would like to indicate. I will first quote again from Father Garrigou-Lagrange on the extension of Mary’s spiritual maternity:

Mary is Mother of infidels in that she is destined to engender them to grace, and in that she obtains for them the actual graces which dispose them for the faith and for justification. She is Mother of the faithful who are in the state of mortal sin, in that she watches over them by obtaining for them the graces necessary for acts of faith and hope, and for disposing themselves for justification. Of those who have died in the state of mortal sin, she is no longer the mother: she was their mother. She is fully the Mother of the just, since they have received sanctifying grace and charity through her. She cares for them with tender solicitude so that they may continue in grace and grow in charity. She is in an eminent way the Mother of the blessed who can no longer lose the life of grace. (54)

Garrigou-Langrange’s comment about those who die in mortal sin should make us all shudder: he simply says of them that Mary was their mother. Past tense. If this is true of all who die in mortal sin, it is necessarily true, for example, of those who deliberately choose euthanasia.

While we know that Mary is in glory now and that she can suffer no more, these reflections may nonetheless help us to grasp how much she suffered in bringing us to birth on Calvary and how much she must have suffered for those whom she foresaw that she could not bring to birth. Father Faber presents this latter category to us as he considers Our Lady’s grieving over the loss of Judas (55) and we might think also of the criminal who refused the grace of repentance. Admittedly, the topic of making reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary and of offering “consolation” to her is a virtually unexplored area in contemporary Marian theology, but, on the basis of the Church’s reception of the message of Fatima alone, it should not be neglected. Besides this, I believe that there are further valuable indications for a deeper understanding of this perspective of Marian reparation which are to be found in the history of theology (56) and the testimony of saints, privileged souls (57) and religious institutes. (58)

VII. Our Part in the Alliance of Hearts

How, then, do we unite ourselves with “this admirable alliance of Hearts,” this new covenant which Jesus has made on our behalf with the Father? We do so by following the lead of Mary, by learning how to be “co-redeemers” with her. The Holy Father has indicated how to do so in many different ways. We must “remain in the Covenant with the Heart of Jesus . . . through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” (59) We must learn how to unite ourselves ever more closely to the reparation which Jesus has made for us and the intercession which he ever lives to make for us at the right hand of the Father (cf. Heb. 7:25).

This is indeed the program of a lifetime and it requires nothing less of us than that we become saints by the faithful living of our Baptismal commitment in union with the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. It means at least monthly confession and the communion of reparation on the first Friday and first Saturday of the month, but then should not our every reception of the Eucharist be a “communion of reparation”? It means joining ourselves to all the intentions of the Heart of Jesus in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. It means praying the rosary in union with the intentions of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It means allowing all of our disappointments, frustrations and sufferings to be united with the reparation of Jesus and Mary.

In an address to the Apostleship of Prayer on 12 April, 1985 the John Paul III exhorted the Superior General of the Jesuits, who bears the primary responsibility for this wonderful initiative, to seek, in fidelity to the spirit of the Association, for more efficacious means adapted to our times to spread among all the faithful this awareness of collaborating with Christ the Redeemer through the offering of their own lives united and lived with the Heart of Christ in total consecration to his love and in reparation for the sins of the world, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary Most Holy. (60)

This is indeed an exhortation which we are called to take to heart. We must grow in assimilating the sentiments of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, in adoration, in consecration, in reparation, in holiness of life.

VIII. Conclusions

In this brief exposition I have tried to indicate four perspectives: 1. the reparation offered to the Father by the Heart of Jesus; 2. the reparation or “consolation” which we are called to offer to the Heart of Jesus; 3. the reparation offered to the Father by the Heart of Mary and 4. the reparation or “consolation” which we are called to offer to the Heart of Mary. Our reparation should be directed both to the Father in union with the Hearts of Jesus and Mary as well as to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

In this scheme of things it might seem that reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the least important item and could be passed over without any loss to the glory of God or the salvation of souls. But there is strong evidence to suggest that, in fact, God has ordained otherwise. The whole phenomenon of Fatima cannot be understood without reference to consecration and reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Sister Lúcia has been a consistent witness to the call for reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (61) and it is from her that we learn of the specific reparatory practices requested for the First Saturday of the month: 1. confession within eight days before or after that day; 2. the communion of reparation on the day itself; 3. the recitation of at least five decades of the rosary and 4. fifteen minutes spent in meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the rosary as an act of reparation to the Heart of Mary. (62)

Why would God choose to link the peace of the world and the stability of the Church with reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary? This is only a conjecture and a partial response, but I wonder if it might not be because of the volume and atrocity of the sins committed against Mary’s spiritual motherhood in this our day which God certainly foresaw at the beginning of the twentieth century. I wonder if God in his infinite wisdom did not ask through Mary for reparation to her Maternal Heart early in this blood-soaked century precisely in view of all the evils which would conspire to tear her children away from her in the course of it and of the wholesale snatching of children from her maternal womb that would be taking place by the end of it. I say this, of course, mindful of the words of Pope John Paul II that “the suffering of this mysterious new Daughter of Sion, Mary, is a result of the innumerable sins of all Adam’s children.” (63)

Hence I believe that there is a profound correlation in the designs of Divine Providence between the ills of our era and the need for reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This would also obviously have particular bearing on the pro-life movement. If we want to combat the demonic anti-life forces effectively, we must do so at once in union with the reparative spirit of Mary’s Heart and in a spirit of reparation to her Immaculate Heart.

In saying these things I always wish the union of Mary’s Heart to the Heart of Jesus to be understood: her Heart has no meaning without reference to his nor should it be seen in isolation from his. This was evidently the intention in showing their hearts together on the reverse side of the miraculous medal (64) and of Sister Lúcia’s understanding of the Lord’s desire that the conversion of Russia be acknowledged as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary so that devotion to the Immaculate Heart should be put beside devotion to his Sacred Heart, (65) a concept which she had already heard from her cousin, Blessed Jacinta Marto. (66)

It is interesting to note that the Congregations of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, known as the Picpus Fathers and Brothers and the Picpus Sisters, have had reparation to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary as one of their principal ends from the time of their foundation shortly after the French Revolution in 1800.(67) Their understanding of their vocation of offering reparation to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary can be instructive for us:

Mary is but a creature; all that she had she received from the absolute plenitude of her Son and she is essentially subordinate to Him. But in that subordination she is intrinsically united to Him in such a way that His glory is reflected on her and in her. Besides, all the outrages which are done to Him, the Word Incarnate, also touch her in her dignity as the Mother of God. Their work is common to them both, and every injury done to the Redeemer has its repercussion in the Heart of the Coredemptrix.

This union is so real and so close that it is not even necessary to think explicitly of Mary in order to give consolation and reparation to her Maternal Heart. When we think of Jesus, when we love Him, when, in our adorations, in our whole life, we give Him the place to which He has a right as Son of God and Redeemer of the human race, we then console ipso facto the Heart of Mary, and we repair the injuries which have been done to her. Because of this real and objective union our Founders could speak of reparation to the Sacred Hearts by adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the same time supposing that the adoration should be addressed directly to Jesus alone.

However, it is to be desired, inasmuch as it was certainly the intention of our Founders, that the intention of reparation to the Heart of Mary should be explicitly manifested, and that, for example, at the beginning of the exercise of adoration, we address ourselves to her in order to express our desire of giving satisfaction to her Heart as well as to that of her Son. (68)

It should be noted that Father Hulselmans, the author, wrote this study in 1945, even though it was only published three years later in 1948. Appropriately developed on the basis of the tradition of the joint founders of his congregation, the Servants of God Father Pierre Marie-Joseph Coudrin (1768-1837) and Mother Henriette Aymer de la Chevalerie (1767-1834), and on the principles of sound theology, this treatment was written, as far as one can tell, without any knowledge of the apparitions at Fatima and certainly not of the subsequent documentation which has only been made known in more recent years. Nonetheless, his appendix on reparation to the Sacred Hearts provides an excellent summary of the theme which I have been exploring here and a wonderful conclusion:

As a resumé of all the preceding, we could say that in the different formulas which the Founders made use of in order to indicate the spirit which should animate adoration, the most ancient, “to repair the outrages done to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” renders more perfectly the direct and immediate object of their intention: to address oneself to the Heart of Jesus really present in the Blessed Sacrament, and to repair by adoration the injuries which are done to Him. The second: “to repair the injuries done to the Sacred Hearts” completes the first by the opportune reference to the close union which exists between Jesus, our Savior, and Mary, our “Coredemptrix.” The third: “to repair the injuries against the Divine Majesty” gives the final end of the entire devotion to the Sacred Hearts; the end toward which adoration should always be most conscientiously directed. (69)

Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins is an official of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” in Rome, a contributing member of the Pontifical International Marian Academy and the author of Totus Tuus. He is internationally known for his numerous articles on Our Lady and for his scholarly work in the fields of dogmatic and spiritual theology. The above article first appeared in Miles Immaculatæ XXXII (Gennaio/Giugno 1996) 91-116.


(1) Discorsi e Radiomessaggi di Sua Santità Pio XII VIII (1946) 288.

(2) Cf. the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Pænitentia, Insegnamenti (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana; henceforth referred to as Inseg) VII/2 (1984) 1387 (L’Osservatore Romano English edition (henceforth referred to as ORE; first number = cumulative edition number; second number = page number) 865:7); the Encyclical Letter Dominum et Vivificantem, Inseg IX/1 (1986) 1520 (ORE 940:10).

(3) Catechism of the Catholic Church (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1994; henceforth referred to as CCC) #598.

(4) Acta Apostolicæ Sedis (henceforth referred to as AAS) 20 (1928) 169 (trans. in Raoul Plus, S.J. Reparation: Its History, Doctrine and Practice (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1931) 95). Pope Paul VI underscores the same fact in his Apostolic Letter Investigabiles Divitias Christi saying that the cultus of the Sacred Heart “consists essentially in the adoration and reparation due to Christ Our Lord” AAS 57 (1965) 300.

(5) Cf. Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences Indulgentiarum Doctrina #2 in Austin Flannery, O.P., ed., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1975) 63.

(6) CCC #616.

(7) Inseg IX/2 (1986) 392 (ORE 951:2).

(8) Inseg XII/2 (1989) 498-499 (ORE 1107:1).

(9) Louis Kondor, S.V.D. (ed.), Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words trans. Dominican Nuns of Perpetual Rosary (Fatima: Postulation Centre, 1976) 63 (Martins, Antonio Maria, S.J. ed. and trans. Memórias e Cartas de Irmã Lúcia. Porto, Portugal: Simão Guimarães, Filhos, Lda., 1973 (henceforth referred to as Memórias) 119).

(10) Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of the Servant of God Sister M. Faustina Kowalska (Stockbridge, MA: Marian Press, 1987) #475, 476.

(11) AAS 20 (1928) 177 (The Papal Encyclicals 1903-1939 (Raleigh, N. C.: McGrath Publishing Co., “Consortium Book,” 1981; henceforth referred to as Carlen 3) 327).

(12) AAS 20 (1928) 179; Walter J. Schmitz, S.S. (ed.), Collectio Rituum (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1964) 570.

(13) Autobiography of Dina Bélanger (Mother Marie Sainte-Cécile de Rome) trans. M. St. Stephen, R.J.M. (Montréal: Religious of Jesus and Mary, 1984) 322.

(14) Cf. letter #86 to Mother de Saumaise of May 1688 in François-Léon Gauthey (ed.), Vie et Oeuvres de Sainte Marguerite-Marie Alacoque, 3 vols. (Paris: Ancienne Librairie Poussielgue, 1920; henceforth referred to as VO) II: 397-398 (Letters of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque trans. Clarence A. Herbst, S.J. (Orlando, FL: Men of the Sacred Heart, 1976; henceforth referred to as LMM) 127); letter #133 to Father Croiset of 3 November 1689, VO II: 580 (LMM 219).

(15) In Ioannis evangelium, tract. XXVI, 4; AAS 20 (1928) 173 (Carlen 3: 325).

(16) AAS 20 (1928) 174; trans. in Francis Larkin, SS.CC., Understanding the Heart second, revised edition (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1980) 66.

(17) Cf. Arthur Burton Calkins, “The Tripartite Biblical Vision of Man: A Key to the Christian Life,” Doctor Communis 43 (1990) 149-152.

(18) AAS 20 (1928) 174 (Carlen 3: 325).

(19) Pensées, 736; Inseg XVI/1 (1993) 37 (ORE 1273:1).

(20) ORE 1329:XI.

(21) ORE 1335:5.

(22) This is witnessed to by the article on reparation by Édouard Glotin, S.J. in the Dictionnaire de Spiritualité13:369-413 which is an excellent historical study almost exclusively devoted to the reparation offered to Christ. The much briefer article on reparation by Andrea Tessarolo in the Dizionario Enciclopedico di Spiritualità(Roma: Città Nuova Editrice, 1990) 3:2175-2177 does have the advantage of providing a broader theological picture and of stressing the unique reparation of Jesus Christ.

(23) Norbert Hoffmann, “Atonement and the Spirituality of the Sacred Heart: An Attempt at an Elucidation by Means of the Principle of ‘Representation,'” Faith in Christ and the Worship of Christ trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986) 197.

(24) Henricus Denzinger et Adolfus Schönmetzer, S.I., eds., Enchiridion Symbolorum Definitionum et Declarationum de Rebus Fidei et Morum, Editio XXXII. (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1963) #3812 (J. Neuner, S.J. and J. Dupuis, S.J. (eds.), The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church revised edition (New York: Alba House, 1982) #661).

(25) Cf. my article, “The Alliance of the Two Hearts and Consecration,” Miles Immaculatae XXXI (1995) 389-407.

(26) Inseg VIII/2 (1985) 671 (ORE 904:1).

(27) Inseg VIII/1 (1985) 1856 (ORE 891:1).

(28) Inseg XIV/1 (1991) 1561-1562 (ORE 1196:5).

(29) Inseg XIV/2 (1991) 1309 (ORE 1219:15).

(30) Inseg VIII/1 (1985) 1759 (ORE 890:1).

(31) Summa Theologiæ III, q. 30, a. 1.

(32) AAS 48 (1956) 352: ex Iesu Christi caritate eiusque cruciatibus cum amore doloribusque ipsius Matris intime consociatis sit nostra salus profecta. (Haurietis Aquas: The Sacred Heart Encyclical of Pope Pius XIIVatican Polyglot Press trans. revised by Francis Larkin, SS.CC. (Orlando, FL.: Sacred Heart Publication Center, 1974) 47). Emphasis my own.

(33) Inseg VII/1 (1984) 309 (St. Paul Editions, 40-41).

(34) Eamon R. Carroll, O.Carm., Understanding the Mother of Jesus (Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, Inc., 1979) 93.

(35) Cf. esp. #24 and also Hoffmann 185.

(36) Cf. the excellent explanation and justification of the use of this term in Jean Galot, S.J., “Maria Corredentrice: Controversie e problemi dottrinali,” La Civiltà Cattolica (quaderno 3459-3460) 1994 III:213-225.

(37) Willian G. Most, “Reparation to the Immaculate Heart,” Cross and Crown 8 (1956) 139.

(38) Mark I. Miravalle, S.T.D., Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing, 1993) xv.

(39) Inseg XVI/1 (1993) 1136 (ORE 1292:7).

(40) Ineffabilis Deus, Pii IX Pontificis Maximi Acta I (Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck-u. Verlagsanstalt, 1971) 597-598; I have used the translation of Most 136, cf. trans. in OL #31.

(41) AAS 20 (1928) 178 (OL #287). Cf. also Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., The Love of God and the Cross of Jesus trans. Sr. Jeanne Marie, O.P. (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1951), Vol. II, 347-365. This entire chapter is entitled “Mary, Model of the Life of Reparation.”

(42) Cf. my study, “The Heart of Mary as Coredemptrix in the Magisterium of Pope John Paul II” in S. Tommaso Teologo: Ricerche in occasione dei due centenari accademici (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana “Studi Tomistici #59,” 1995) 320-335.

(43) Frederick William Faber, The Foot of the Cross (Philadelphia: The Peter Reilly Co., 1956) 384 (my emphasis).

(44) On the principle of analogy as applied to Our Lady cf. my book, Totus Tuus: John Paul II’s Program of Marian Consecration and Entrustment (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 1994), 162-168, 104.

(45) Cf. Timothy Sparks, O.P., “Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” in From an Abundant Spring: The Walter Farrell Memorial Volume of the Thomist (New York: Thomist Press, 1952) 42-43 where the author distinguishes between objective and subjective reparation and 47-48 where he applies this distinction to the Immaculate Heart.

(46) Inseg VII/1 (1984) 904-905 (ORE 829:1).

(47) The call for reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is already manifest on 13 June, 1917 (Memórias337) and the First Saturday Communion of Reparation is first alluded to on 13 July, 1917 (Memórias 219, 339). In a letter written by order of her confessor in 1927, Sister Lúcia wrote about the subsequent apparitions to her in Pontevedra, Spain regarding the First Saturday Communion of Reparation (Memórias 401).

(48) Most 135; cf. Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., “La capacité de souffrir du péché en Marie Immaculée,” Angelicum 31 (1954) 352-357.

(49) Sparks 53.

(50) Memórias 409-411.

(51) Inseg II/2 (1979) 1289 (Turkey: Ecumenical Pilgrimage (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1980) 76-77).

(52) Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., The Mother of the Saviour and Our Interior Life trans. Bernard J. Kelly, C.S.Sp. (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Company, 1957) 167.

(53) CCC #1261.

(54) Garrigou-Lagrange 167.

(55) Foot of the Cross 218-219.

(56) Cf. Leonard Perotti, O.F.M., “The Pious Practice of Expiation to Mary,” in Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M., Mariology, Vol. 3 (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1961) 179-182; Gabriele M. Roschini, O.S.M., Dizionario di Mariologia (Roma: Editrice Studium, 1961) 440-441.

(57) Cf. Gabriele M. Roschini, O.S.M., “Con Maria e Per Maria”: Cenni Biografici della Serva di Dio Suor M. Dolores Inglese delle Serve di Maria “Riparatrici” (Roma: Casa Generalizia delle Serve di Maria Riparatrici, 1955); Maria Maura Muraro, L’Addolorata di Rovigo: Storia – culto – spiritualità (Roma: Edizioni «Marianum,” 1995) 109-159.

(58) Cf. Muraro 163-211.

(59) Inseg VIII/1 (1985) 1759 (ORE 890:1).

(60) Inseg VIII/1 (1985) 1030 (ORE 883:5).

(61) Cf. Memórias 219, 337, 339, 411.

(62) Cf. Memórias 401.

(63) Inseg VII/1 (1984) 904 (ORE 829:1); emphasis mine.

(64) Cf. Joseph A. Pelletier, A.A., The Immaculate Heart of Mary (Worcester, MA: An Assumptionist Publication, 1976) 15-16, 24-29.

(65) Cf. Memórias 415.

(66) Cf. Memórias 235.

(67) Cf. Antoine Hulselmans, SS.CC., Exposé Historique sur Le Chapitre Préliminaire de la Règle de la Congrégation des Sacrés-Coeurs (Louvain: Études Picpuciennes, #1, 1948) 17, 27, 47, 64, 65, 68, 69, 70, 87, 96 (A Historical Account of the Preliminary Chapter of the Rule of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts trans. Fathers and Brothers of the Sacred Hearts, Fairhaven, MA, n.d., 12, 20, 33, 45, 47, 48, 49, 60, 66).

(68) Hulselmans 138 (trans. 93-94).

(69) Hulselmans 142 (trans. 97).

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